Mon. May 29th, 2023

The judge who sentenced Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes to 11 years and three months in prison has recommended she serve out her term at a minimum-security women’s facility in Texas.

Judge Edward Davila of the Northern District of California recommended Holmes serve at Federal Prison Camp at Bryan, Texas, according to a court filing last week. The Bryan facility, which is about 100 miles northwest of Houston, holds about 540 female inmates across four dormitory units on a 37-acre campus, according to its website.

Prison camps have “dormitory housing, a relatively low staff-to-inmate ratio, and limited or no perimeter fencing”  and are “work- and program-oriented,” according to the Bureau of Prisons. All inmates at the facility are required to work, which they do for an hourly wage of between 12 cents and $1.15, according to the camp’s orientation handbook. 

Inmates have access to correspondence courses, board games, movies and arts and crafts, as well as to a family counseling program to strengthen imprisoned parents’ relationships with their kids.

The Bryan facility offers a more lenient family visitation than other prisons, Yahoo News noted. Davila referenced it in his sentencing, writing, “The Court finds that family visitation enhances rehabilitation.”

Holmes has a 16-month-old son with her partner, William Evans, and is pregnant with a second child.

Front view of a lawn, tree and low building
A view of the Federal Prison Camp in Bryan, Texas.

Bureau of Prisons

“[C]ompared to other places in the prison system, this place is heaven,” criminal defense attorney Alan Ellis told Bloomberg. If Holmes serves her sentence at the complex, she will face “no walls, no bars, no fences,” he noted.

It isn’t certain Holmes will be sent to the Bryan facility. That is is up the Bureau of Prisons, which will make the final determination of where she serves her sentence, although it will take Davila’s recommendation into account. Holmes, who at one time was hailed as a biotech wunderkind, must check into a facility on April 27, 2023. 

Holmes was sentenced last week for her role in defrauding investors in Theranos, a once-promising blood-testing startup that collapsed after revelations that its key technology didn’t work as promised. Valued at $10 billion at its peak, Theranos pulled in hundreds of millions of dollars in investments from heavyweights including media mogul Rupert Murdoch, software billionaire Larry Ellison, the Walton family of Walmart and the DeVos clan behind Amway.

A hearing on how much money Holmes must repay will take place at a later date. Prosecutors had sought $804 million in repayment to investors who lost money in Theranos. Holmes is expected to appeal her sentencing, which she must do within two weeks of the November 18 sentencing date.

Theranos’ former chief operating officer, Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, was convicted of 12 counts of fraud and is set to be sentenced in December.

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